• Kids in DangerIn the story, the children go from a scary world of war and bombings to the relative safety of the professor�s home�only to be cast into another set of very scary circumstances. What was Lewis up to here?

    Lewis believed that protecting a child from the dark realities of life was a disservice. He disagreed with people who think: �we must try to keep out of his [a child�s] mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil� (from his essay, �On Writing for Children�).

    Instead, Lewis saw literature as an opportunity for children to safely encounter fear�and move past it to see that all comes out right in the end. A careful reading of the Chronicles reveals that the fearful obstacles the children face in Narnia help them to understand themselves or their world better, or learn important lessons�like trusting in Aslan�s goodness and power. Throughout the stories, the characters learn to take independent action in the face of fear, fighting the battle or pursuing the quest as well as they can, while also trusting Aslan�s purposes and involvement.

    The Narnia stories can help our children grow in the same ways. Think of all the fears and frights of Narnia as Lewis� attempt to pass on to your children the real prize: courage. And think of courage in children�s literature as another word for faith.

    Real-World ResonancesThough the book makes only a passing reference to the war that led to the children being sent away from London, the movie plays this up more, even showing the family cowering during an aerial raid. Today, our kids are growing up in a world of widespread fear of terrorism and war. Kids might be frightened by the movie's depiction of the bombings and some might even connect the scene to the fears they encounter in their lives. How should I handle this?

    As a veteran of both world wars, Lewis was intimately acquainted with real-world fears. (In fact, during the World War II bombings in London, several children did come to stay in his home at the Kilns.) Here are some suggestions of what to say, and what not to say:

  • Don�t tell your children not to be afraid. Acknowledge their very real feelings of fear and let them know that sometimes you feel afraid, too.
  • Reassure scared kids with solid facts about their safety ("a tsunami is unlikely in Kentucky"), without promising that nothing bad will ever happen to them.
  • Encourage them to do what the kids in Narnia do when they are afraid. They call out to Aslan, and your kids can do the same. �Dear God, help me not be afraid. Thank you for being near me.�
  • Protect them from non-age appropriate media reports that are too graphic.
  • Consider a project that emphasizes the survivors of calamity. For example, maybe they could write to a child survivor of a terrorist attack or donate part of their allowance to a peace organization.
  • Assure your children that even if the worst happened, nothing evil or scary can ever take away God�s love or the promise of heaven: �We are all between the paws of Aslan.�
  • Pride, Gluttony, Power Lust, and other lessons from Edmund

    _Related Features
  • Are You a Lion or a Witch?
  • Edmund's Moral Descent
  • Complete Narnia coverage
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